Building on the promise of his hallucinogenic debut Go Down Death, filmmaker Aaron Schimberg delivers another brilliantly oddball, acerbically funny foray into gonzo surrealism. In a deft tragicomic performance, Jess Weixler (Teeth) plays Mabel, a movie star “slumming it” in an outré art-horror film being shot in a semi-abandoned hospital. Cast opposite her is Rosenthal (Under the Skin’s Adam Pearson), a gentle-natured young man with a severe facial deformity. As their relationship evolves both on and offscreen, Schimberg raises provocative questions about cinematic notions of beauty, representation, and exploitation. Tod Browning crossed with Robert Altman crossed with David Lynch only begins to describe something this startlingly original and deeply felt.
There is something so extraordinary about this film. Not only does it ooze charm, but it’s a comment about representation in Hollywood. The dialogue is equal parts tongue in cheek as it is completely serious. It has a very indie cinematography style, as well. The script is completely engrossing, start to finish. Each film homage tucked inside Aaron Schimberg’s film is carefully crafted. A film within a film within a film, there are moments that feel mind-blowingly meta. The lines between fantasy and reality are often blurred creating an effect on the audience that is hypnotizing.
Jess Weixler easily represents us as the audience. Her sincerity and ability to relate on an emotional level are super refreshing. Her performance feels natural and grounded. Chained for Life also sees the return of Charlie Korsmo ( a childhood crush since Dick Tracy) as the eccentric Director. The level of commitment to this character makes me miss him on-screen all the more. And now we come to our leading man, Adam Pearson. I am completely obsessed with this man. He is phenomenal. I cannot remember the last time a performance felt less like a performance and just simply a documentary. He is mesmerizing and I implore more writers and directors to seek him out and create content for him. The world needs it. Giving voice to those who are almost always exploited for their unique appearance, Chained For Life is a special opportunity to explore inclusiveness, not just in film, but every day.
WHAT IS DEMOCRACY? could not be coming at a more tumultuous time in history. How did we get here? Director Astra Taylor poses the question to people from every corner of the globe in this poignant documentary. The film explores the past, present, and theorizes what will become of our future if we do not pause to learn from our previous mistakes. The world is in what feels like total upheaval but it is not the first time we as a civilization have been on the precipice of either disaster or triumph. We march, we vote, we are inundated with fake news, and yet the people continue to strive for peace and equality against all odds. But democracy goes both ways. That’s the very essence of the word itself. Can good prevail without its counterpart? What we gather, on the whole, is that the naive promise of democracy is beginning to feel like an unfulfilled promise. That no matter the world’s location, race, socio-economics, and money rule. Let us not become numb to the negative but continue to seek compromise and understanding. Truly, WHAT IS DEMOCRACY? should be required viewing in every high school civics class. Hell, it should be required viewing by every human being.
Acclaimed director Astra Taylor‘s WHAT IS DEMOCRACY? (TIFF 2018) opens Jan. 16, 2019 at IFC Center in New York via Zeitgeist Films in association with Kino Lorber, followed by theatrical engagements nationwide.
Synopsis: Coming at a moment of profound political and social crisis, What Is Democracy? reflects on a word we too often take for granted. Director Astra Taylor’s (Zizek! and Examined Life) idiosyncratic, philosophical journey spans millennia and continents: from ancient Athens’ groundbreaking experiment in self-government to capitalism’s roots in medieval Italy; from modern-day Greece grappling with financial collapse and a mounting refugee crisis to the United States reckoning with its racist past and the growing gap between rich and poor. The film features Cornel West, Angela Davis, theorists, activists, asylum seekers and a diverse cast of people from around the world.
Long Day’s Journey Into Night is why we go to film festivals. It’s one of those films that people will be talking about for years to come because the audience will either love it or loathe it. There is no denying it’s a visually striking and stylistically over-indulgent noir that goes nowhere and everywhere all at once. Confused? You’re not alone. I’m not sure anyone walked out of the theater thinking, “Yup, I can totally relate!” That would actually be pretty weird on multiple levels, but with all that being said, wow, it is one hell of a cinematic experience. The hyper-saturation of the sets, costumes, and the unusual use of neon give it a Blade Runner feel in style. You’re also working with two timelines. And then, wait for it, a 1 hour, single-take, dream sequence… in 3D! Yes. Reoccurring images, long natural cadence in the dialogue, superb music, and sound editing add the wild magic and peculiarity that is Long Day’s. It’s a film I may never see again unless I wanted to discuss it in some University setting, which, admittedly, I am not opposed to. So, I suppose in summation, Long Day’s Journey Into Night is as cool as it is confounding.
Set in New York, the story centers on the struggles of David as he comes to terms with his own high-functioning autism, when he unexpectedly falls for a quirky and outgoing woman whose lust for life both irks and fascinates him. Keep the Change is based on an award-winning short film developed by Rachel Israel and Brandon Polansky that was inspired by Polansky’s experiences at Adaptations, a community for adults on the autism spectrum.
Keep The Change premiered last year at The Tribeca Film Festival to rave reviews and won awards for best U.S. narrative feature and best new narrative director along with a special mention for the Nora Ephron Prize.
This film is a sidesplitting winner. Outside of the documentary genre, we’re not often let into the world of adults on the autism spectrum. Keep The Change follows the beginnings of a relationship between two very different individuals who are ultimately seeking to be accepted and cherished for who they are. The issues of self-love, sexuality, class, are addressed in endearing and tongue-in-cheek ways. Newcomers and leads Brandon Polansky and Samantha Elisofon have an insane chemistry. The two appear to be polar opposites making their banter all the more entertaining. Any time you pit a glum and cynical individual against an outgoing and seemingly innocent one, interesting things are bound to happen. The dialogue is biting, witty, and oftentimes offensive, keeping the viewer on their toes and thoroughly amused. Writer/director Rachel Israel has given us a true gem. This unique romcom will undoubtedly charm the pants off of you and teach you some much-needed tolerance.
Kino Lorber will open the film in New York on March 16th at the Quad Cinema, in Los Angeles on April 20th at Laemmle Town Center and Laemmle Royal Theatre followed by a national rollout.
Keep The Change stars newcomers Brandon Polansky and Samantha Elisofon. Written and directed by Rachel Israel, the film also stars veteran actress Jessica Walter (“Arrested Development”), Tibor Feldman and non-professional actors with Autism, Nicky Gottlieb and Will Deaver.
Let’s just say this – Korean film is on a roll. From the works of Chan Wook Park to Bong Joon Ho, South Korean is churning out some of the most inventive and interesting films since the turn of the millennium. Kim Seong-Hun‘s A Hard Day is definitely welcome in this same group. A white-knuckler for sure, A Hard Day doesn’t waste any time getting into the action, raising the pulse of the action steadily from the opening scene to the perfect last shot. That it is able to sustain a level of high intensity for almost two hours is commendable, if not exhausting for the viewer. But it is highly rewarding. This is a film that many thrillers aspire to but rarely achieve.
The story is simple – Detective Ko (Sun-kyun Lee) is in mourning for his mother, who has just passed. As he sits with his family as he receives a call that something has happened at the police station where he works that requires his attention. As he is driving to the station, he accidentally hits and kills a man in the road. This leaves him in a dilemma – does he turn himself in or does he cover it up? Take a guess which one he chooses. This decision continues to haunt him for the remainder of the film. When he gets to the office, he finds out that they have been raided by Internal Affairs for taking bribes and now his job is at risk…and he has a dead body in his trunk. He disposes of the body in a perfect way, which leads us to think that we haven’t seen or heard the last of it. When Ko gets a phone call from a man purporting to know that he has killed the pedestrian, a whole host of new problems open up for Ko pushing him (and his family) to the brink.
This movie is so kinetic, so heart-pounding that you rarely get a chance to come up and breathe before Ko falls into one more twist that draws him (and us) back into some deeper shit. Jin-woong Jo, who plays Ko’s formidable opponent Park, looks every bit of a villain. Park’s cunning and planning push Ko to stay on his toes and adapt quickly. So often villains telegraph their moves making it easy for the protagonist to succeed. Not in this film, though. Park is one step ahead of Ko at seemingly all times and just keeps coming back for more.
While the ending sequence between Park and Ko dragged on for a bit too long, it had such a satisfying end and one that the film earned. The final shot of the film is just perfection. Credit goes to Seong-Hun‘s script throughout for really giving the viewer the proxy ride, via Ko, on this adventure. It’s one that you won’t easily shake for a while after it’s done. I could easily see this film getting an American remake (although I hope it doesn’t as it’s perfect as is) a la Scorsese‘s remake of Lau & Mak‘s Infernal Affairs. This is a film that American audiences crave as is evident that there have been three (THREE!!!!) films made in the Taken series and all three combined don’t give anywhere near the amount of thrills and suspense that A Hard Day gives.
With respect to the great number of blockbuster films that have come out this summer, none that I’ve seen engaged me or thrilled me as much as A Hard Day. That said, you should RUN, not walk, to see this film if you get the chance. It has all you could want in an action film and more.
A Hard Day opens today at Village East Cinemas in New York with a national release to follow and is brought to you by the good people over at Kino Lorber.
KINO LORBER OPENS MOHAMMAD RASOULOF’S MANUSCRIPTS DON’T BURN ON JUNE 13, 2014, AT MoMA IN NEW YORK CITY
FILM EXPANDS DURING THE SUMMER AND EARLY FALL
… the first film since the declaration of the Islamic Republic to confront so directly the brutality of the feared security apparatus.”
– Alissa Simon, Variety
“Demands to be seen as widely as possible.”
– Jonathan Romney, Screen International
Kino Lorber is proud to announce the New York opening of the Iranian drama (and political thriller) Manuscripts Don’t Burn on Friday, June 13, at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City. Read More →